Some publishers require a query letter prior to submitting work, particularly for nonfiction. (Rarely is it true for fiction or poetry.) See the sample letter below, which can be tailored to your topic.
Warren Wilson College
Asheville NC 28815-9000
Catherine Reid, Editor
Live It Green [do your homework; make sure it’s the best journal for the essay you have written or plan to write]
Asheville NC 28815-9000
Dear Catherine Reid [address editor by whole name, not first name]:
The peregrine falcon, a bird that can reach 200 mph in a dive, swoops through the city faster than most people can follow; it’s the explosion of feathers as the falcon captures a pigeon that leaves onlookers agape. But this particular bird doesn’t drop to the ground with its kill or carry it off to a nearby branch as would a wild hawk; this falcon, with its tell-tale jess, flies back to its owner, surrendering the dead pigeon at the man’s feet.
Falconry, or the use of specially trained hawks to kill prey for humans, is a 3000-year-old sport. Its recent appearance in the United States, however (the North American Falconers Association wasn’t formed until 1961), and the use of falcons in urban areas to deal with nuisance animals, is a story that’s still unfolding.
I would like to write an article for Live It Green that tells the story of both wild peregrine falcons, only recently recovered from an endangered species status, as well as that of captive-bred birds. Interviews with Harold Smith, a falconer who hawks his birds in fields adjacent to the college, and with members of the North Carolina Falconers Guild have provided me ample anecdotal evidence for the popularity of the sport.
I have also corresponded with Mick Johnson, of London, England, who has had considerable success deploying falcons as pigeon deterrents, and with Moira Shipman, of the Central Park Conservancy in New York, who is a strong advocate of similar controls in this country.
A controversy compounding this project, however, is that non-falconers have frequently complained that the keeping of wild raptors violates the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and falconers have often had birds seized by government officials (leading to the untimely deaths of many such confiscated birds). Raising the stakes in this tug-of-war is the discovery of the falcons’ efficiency in killing pigeons, squirrels and rats, each of which has been known to carry diseases, and each of which costs cities millions of dollars annually in containment or eradication programs. Falconry could do for cities what border collies have done for airport runways, making the world a safer place for all of us.
I have written articles on local environmental issues for Warren Wilson’s alumni magazine, Owl & Spade, and for the area’s weekly newspaper, Mountain Xpress; I have also contributed radio essays to “Swannanoa Journal,” a weekly broadcast produced by the Environmental Leadership Center.
I am prepared to write an article of 3000 words for Live It Green that will explore the history and sport of falconry, as well as the potential for using these efficient birds of prey to control nuisance species in U.S. cities. I appreciate your consideration and enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for your reply.